This dissertation uses Italian data to investigate why parties nominate for reelection incumbents accused of corruption. In some elections, Italian parties renominated incumbent parliament members (MPs) regardless of whether they were accused of corruption by the judiciary. Once they were renominated, accused MPs were reelected to office. In other elections, parties refrained from renominating accused MPs. Non-renominated MPs were then unable to reenter parliament.
To explain this variation, I argue that media coverage of corruption decreases the chances of allegedly corrupt incumbents being renominated. Based on two dimensions of media coverage, I develop two hypotheses. By giving prominence to the issue of corruption, the media increases its public salience, discouraging party leaders from renominating legislators accused of corruption. Prominence of corruption in the media lowers the renomination chances of allegedly corrupt legislators. Then, by reporting on corruption accusations against specific legislators, the media enables voters to identify them and punish their party. When corruption is salient to voters, media mentions of corruption allegations against specific legislators decrease their chances of being renominated.
To test the first hypothesis, I analyze how the Italian media covered corruption before each election. I find a negative correlation between media prominence of corruption and the renomination rates of MPs accused of corruption. For the second hypothesis, I conduct a statistical analysis of MPs' renomination probabilities in two elections. Controlling for relevant confounders, newspaper mentions of corruption allegations against MPs appear to decrease their renomination chances. These findings indicate that media scrutiny promotes electoral accountability by influencing candidate selection.